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Wednesday December 2nd 2020

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Ani-Meals Brings Meals on Wheels to Furry Family Members

By DWIGHT HOBBES 

In the best of times folk who have trouble making ends meet have enough of a challenge feeding themselves, much less Fido and Kitty. These are far from the best of times. Accordingly, Ani-Meals is more than ever a pet owner’s godsend, spun-off from Meals on Wheels through a Meals On Wheels America grant to PetSmart Charities in 2015. Soon as word got out about the supply, demand grew. Melanie La Pointe, Ani-Meals director at the Community Emergency Service location, recalls, “It exploded pretty fast. At first, we had about ten animals, then, it went up to about 70.” That number is now 163 pets belonging to 90 clients of MOW. 

For confirmed animal lover La Pointe, the program is a heartfelt undertaking. “It’s really important for people to be able to keep their pets. Pets are family. A lot of our [MOW] clients don’t have any family. They’re basically isolated.” A condition the corona crisis hardly helps. “Their dog or cat is their family and it’s important to keep [pets] healthy. A study said that being lonely was equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.” Accordingly, having that pet to care for as a reason to get up each day can be vital. “Somebody that needs them. It’s a mutual arrangement that makes them both healthier and happier.” 

As shown by the explosion in demand right off the bat, there’s a steadily increasing demand for Ani-Meals’ services. There is not a correlating increase in resources. Asked what she’d do with more funding, La Pointe answers, “I’d make arrangements so we could provide more veterinarian care [which is] really expensive. When you’re on a fixed income, you can’t spend $800 on a cat.” Generally, you don’t even have it to spend on yourself. She underscores, “You just don’t have the money.” Meals On Wheels America is looking into that, but, she sees any help from that quarter as being a year away. Meanwhile, the program has an excellent relationship with 3 Pound Cats. “Dr. Marie Louderback makes house calls for basic exams and vaccines. That makes it possible for people in apartments to keep their animals.” 

Ani-Meals provides monthly, weekend deliveries of some purchased, but mainly donated pet food. This includes some specialized foods, such as canned-only or grain-free for animals with more specific dietary needs. All said, an invaluable community resource, especially these days. To volunteer, donate or otherwise support Ani-Meals: mlapointe@cesmn.org or 612.870.1125 x128. Located at 1900 11th Avenue, South Minneapolis. And you can look on Facebook. 

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